If your todo list is anything like mine, you may want to go ahead and scroll down to the bottom of this to see a trout pic. But if you can stomach a little banter, saddle up and stick with me for a super-speedy, highlights-only report on our fantastic family vacation in Montana. But it’s going to be true rapidfire yall, no kidding. We didn’t arrive home to Austin until after midnight last night, and I leave for Mobile tomorrow morning at 6:15. Instead of unpacking, doing laundry, and re-packing, I have opted instead to write this post. So enjoy some pics and cut me some slack for the next week in Alabama when I am wandering the charming southern streets of Mobile in dirty fishing clothes because I am literally taking the untouched piece of luggage that is still sitting by the front door where it was plopped late last night (nay, early this morning.)
So Little Chick and I kicked off the trip with my mom and a little glamping at the Northfork Lodge and fishing on the Blackfoot. Insert your own pics of cutthroat because we were too busy having fun and catching a lot of fish to take any pictures on the river. Fishing was prolific and specific: spruce moth, spruce moth, and more spruce moth. The lodge scene was as fun as ever, especially since we had good friends from Alabama who were at the lodge with their boys. (You may recognize my girlfriend from previous posts from our “Chicks” trips…)
Friends/guides Chad and Pat with Little Chick and my mom after a great day on the Blackfoot:
Campfires were fun with fellow guests from Houston, Florida and North Carolina, as well as our friends Peg and Dick from Wisconsin.
After a few days we moseyed over to the Mo, with a slight detour through Butte where we accidentally got caught up in Evil Kinieval Days (long story.) My dad had wrapped up his adventure on the south fork of the Flathead and was waiting for us in Wolf Creek. Fishing on the Missouri was much tougher than when we were there late June. Water temps were high, fish wary. That said, there were fish eating on top and we pushed hard for four days to try and trick them, with decent success.
The Professor flew out and joined the party…
This was caught on a teeny trico, plucked from a hungry pod of risers. The Professor hooked it, Little Chick reeled it in…
After a week of fishing pretty hard, my parents had to leave town, and so The Professor, Little Chick and I were left unchaperoned for the second week of our vacation. First stop? The Gates of the Mountain Boat Tour north of Helena.
The Professor and I loved all the history, the geology, Lewis and Clark lore, and tales of the Man Gulch Fire.
Little Chick had done this tour a few too may times before.
Straight from the boat tour we forced the Professor (mildly against his will) to take us to the carousel in Helena. Turns out 41yrs and 12yrs old (soon to be 42 and 13) is a wee bit too old for the carousel as Little Chick and I were wrestling a birthday party of 6-year olds out of the way to get the best animals on the carousel.
I got the wolf, boo. Some speedy little tyke beat me out for the seahorse.
Little Chick scored with the otter.
Yes there is video, no I am not sharing it. Lesson learned: at a certain age make sure all members of your party actually ride the carousel so no one is left on the edge to capture incriminating footage of you making an ass of yourself riding a fake white wolf, holding on for dear life and squealing amidst a bunch of six year olds who are pretty much rolling their eyes and checking their watches wondering when cake will be served.
We carried on down the road to Sheridan MT where we spent the rest of our trip. The next day we ventured over to the Lewis & Clark Caverns, a first for all of us. We loved it. A great two-mile hike, incredible cave formations. This was a major hit across the board. Separate post to follow, there’s just soooooo much we loved about the caverns. Mainly I just adore any day when I get to say stalagmite and stalactite in regular conversation. I threw out spelunking a few times and clearly looked like a showoff.
Day Three of the Americana Family Tour landed us at Bannack State Park and the old mining ghost town. Little Chick ranked this #2 behind the caverns which will, I believe, remain tough to top for a long time to come. But as ghost towns go, this one is pretty swank.
Still feeling the round-and-round spirit of the Helena carousel we took a spin on the antique merry go round outside the schoolhouse. Predictably, near chaos ensued.
As we were winding down our tourism portion of the trip and making our transition back to fishing, we had friends Ke’lah and Joe Willauer over for dinner, as well as their summer roommate and our new friend Sean. It was such a fun evening, topped off by Little Chick’s most recent cake decorating masterpiece. Of course we like to be relevant with our icing art, very hip very right now…
It was tons of fun picnicking around Montana and seeing cultural gems, but we were ready to get back on the water. So after much debate (Madison, Big Hole, Beaverhead, Madison, Big Hole, Beaverhead) it was off to the…Beaverhead. We had heard mixed reports on how it was fishing but I am here to give you the definitive word: redhot. On fire. Really fun day. Here’s one that came up and smashed an ant pattern.
For our final day of family fun, we went to the Woodson Ranch and fished the spring creeks that flow into the Ruby River. Little Chick liked being able to spread out and get away from our constant coaching, while I loved hearing her talk to herself and the fish when she thought she was alone.
“Whoa! Look at that fatty! Come and eat it fatty!”
“Are you kidding me? You’re not going to eat that?”
“Aww, c’mon. That’s cold. Just eat it.”
“That is the meanest trout in the whole wide world.”
Ah, from the mouths of babes. For me, the absolute highlight of the summer trip was when Little Chick caught this rainbow all on her own. The Professor was way far off and it took me a little while to hobble over with my still healing ankle but she played it to perfection until I arrived.
Caught on this little hopper…
One more time, Little Chick, how did it all go down again? Well, I just looked down and the fish swam over and then it came up and did this…